Herb: Native Pennyroyal


Latin name: Mentha satureioides


Family: Labiatae



Medicinal use of Native Pennyroyal:

The leaves and flowering plant are alterative, antispasmodic, blood purifier, digestive, emmenagogue and tonic. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, coughs, colds, headaches, digestive disorders, menstrual complaints and various minor ailments. It can be used as a substitute for both pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) and peppermint (Mentha x piperita). Like those species, it should not be prescribed for pregnant women since it can procure an abortion. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses and can cause abortions.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
May to
June


Scent:
Scented
Perennial

Habitat of the herb:

Banks of rivers and creeks, open forests and pastures, especially on shale.

Edible parts of Native Pennyroyal:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. A herb tea is made from the leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant. It has a scent intermediate between pennyroyal and peppermint. The plant is used as an insect repellent. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain.

Propagation of Native Pennyroyal:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Banks of rivers and creeks, open forests and pastures, especially on shale.

Known hazards of Mentha satureioides:

Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.